Letters, June 9, 2011

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THE creeping privatisation of our hospitals, temporarily put on hold following the anguished cried of concern from the public and their GPs, is not the only government project that should be ‘put on hold’.

Under the radar another privatisation programme is rapidly gathering steam.

Following the recent £15 million and £10 million plans to convert to academy status in Adwick and Conisbrough respectively, the remaining Doncaster schools are all being pressurised by the secretary of state for education to abandon local democratic accountability by leaving their local education authority and becoming ‘economy class academies’.

In this case ‘economy class’ means merely changing their name to academy and accepting some ‘pocket money’ (compared to the vast amounts spent on previous £20 to £30 million ‘re-build academies’) from the government to compensate them, in the very short term ,for their loss of their local education authority services.

When the pocket money is spend on replacement services and the government cuts continue they may well have to seek ‘care assistance’. The Outwood Grange Academy head who ‘raked in taxpayers’ money’ will not be the only one at this point who might offer help to our newly independent schools and our local education authority will no longer be available to assist as Mr Gove and his coalition colleagues will be - by this time - in the act of administering the ‘last rites’ to out once democratically controlled local education authority.

T Dolly, Dunsville

What will this estate bring?

RE your article regarding the controversial Manor Farm housing development in Bessacarr (Free Press, April 21).

Spin? Your article states that the development will bring 1,000 new homes to the area along with a residential care village of 250 homes for the over 55s. This care village complex is certainly not included in the planning application for Phase 1 of the development recently submitted to the council for approval. Perhaps Persimmon Homes could tell us if any retirement home company is willing to take on this project and that it will definitely be included in a later phase of the development? If not, we foresee the land will ultimately will be used for yet more houses.

Spin? Again, the new primary school is unlikely to be built. Land has been set aside by Persimmon Homes for the council to build a school on should they wish but since Sycamore School, a local primary school not far from the site is under threat of closure due to empty places in several local schools, the council is unlikely to take up the option of building another school.

Spin? What are the “associated facilities” mentioned in the article?

And more spin? As far as the “substantial new green spaces to be made available to the whole community” goes, the fact is that for many years local residents and ramblers have had access via footpaths and bridle ways to a large tract of green field land in the area where Manor Farm once stood. The plans submitted will restrict this facility which the community has enjoyed and there will be very little access provided in its place. So where, we ask, is the substantial new green space?

The forum doesn’t believe everything it reads because when it comes to “spin” it’s hard to tell what is truth and what is fiction.

Warren Middleton, The Bessacarr & Cantley Community Forum, Stoops Road, Bessacarr

Editor’s note: The article referred to was based on an interview with Andrew Bowes, managing director for Persimmon Homes Yorkshire

We’re not just a garden group

WE, the Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery, are very grateful for DFP’s coverage of our activities, including the recent launch, by Rosie Winterton MP, of the Heritage Circuit. However, we would like to correct one aspect of your reports which may be giving a false impression to potential supporters. We have been described by your newspaper, on more than one occasion, as a ‘gardening group’ and, whilst we do undertake a little work of that nature as our own hands-on contribution to the upkeep of this important site, the Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery do much more than gardening.

In addition to providing the Heritage Circuit, examples of our work include leading guided walks, publishing information leaflets, improved signage, additional benches, new gates, answering family history enquiries, giving illustrated talks and improving the wildlife habitat. Our plans for the future include restoration of monuments and, ultimately, the Grade II listed Chapels and Lodge.

More information can be found on our website www.fohpc.org.uk.

Richard Bell, Chair of the Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery, Ayots Green, Hatfield

Poignant letters for family

I AM writing to you to see if you can help me find the family of two men - Wilfred and Frank Marshall, brothers, who had a connection to my father-in-law here in Canada.

Wilfred emigrated to Canada to homestead and ultimately he signed up to fight in the First World War.

Frank wanted to emigrate to Canada but as far as I know he never was able to.

Frank’s first son’s name was Reginald, born October 1922. Frank lived at 106 Markham Avenue, Carcroft. He worked at Bentley Colliery.

There was another brother Arthur but there is no information about him other than a mention in one of the letters.

Frank and Wilfred’s mother’s name was Lucy Marshall Wright and she lived on Ansdell Road, Bentley. Frank and Wilfred’s father was called William Marshall, who was a native of Portington, Howden.

When our home farm was sold, I found an old trunk and in it were letters that my father-in-law had saved written to him by Wilfred and Frank. Wilfred fought in the major battles in France during WWII with the 28th (Northwest) Canadian Infantry Battalion. His letters from the front, though few, are especially poignant. Wilfred (Teddy) paid the supreme sacrifice on October 4, 1918, and he is buried in the Bucquoy Road British Cemetery in France.

I would like very much to return these letters to family members, if there are any, as well as other information and pictures that I have.

If there are any possible relatives to connect with me I would appreciate it so much

Sandy McAllister, 23 Strathcanna Court S.W. Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T3H 1Z1. Tel. 1-403-249-7279

Our volunteers are wonderful

I AM writing to you to let everyone know about our wonderful volunteers and all that they do for Alzheimer’s Society in Doncaster.

South Yorkshire Alzheimer’s Society Volunteers befriend people with dementia and carers, they help serve tea at our dementia cafes, they sing with people at Singing for the Brain or accompany people on heath walks. They campaign, raise awareness, rattle tins and hold events. Without volunteers we could not do what we do for people affected by dementia on the scale that we do it.

Our volunteers come from all kinds of different backgrounds and often face huge personal difficulties. Some are carers for a person with dementia, some have dementia themselves, some are struggling to find work in this uncertain climate, others have other long-term health concerns and some are far from home trying to gain asylum. And yet every week/month/time we need them, they are there with a smile, rolled up sleeves and a willingness to help make a difference.

Please, this Volunteers’ Week, say thank you to the people that volunteer in whatever capacity. Volunteers are truly special people.

To our Alzheimer’s Society volunteers – thank you. You make a huge difference.

Annie Bethell, Volunteering Officer, South Yorkshire. Alzheimer’s Society, Venture House, 105 Arundel Street, Sheffield S1 2NT

Memories of Suez in book

I’VE written a book ‘Suez: The Hidden Truths’ which details those turbulent years of the Suez Campaign of the early 1950s when thousands of troops, many on National Service, were sent to defend the canal zone, often facing appalling conditions.

Even though many of the men who died were only in their teens, we were inexplicably denied a medal, unlike soldiers serving in other campaigns or actions. Now, after a long campaign, this injustice has been righted.

Many Suez veterans, now in their 70s, are delighted with the award of this belated medal, but it is a travesty that it wasn’t issued at the time.

Indeed, from this failed adventure, can anything be learned today in the context of Afghanistan? As in the Suez conflict, brave men are dying once more.

My book costs £7, including P&P, with memories galore.

John Hunt, Suez Veteran, 14 Carrfield Bamber Bridge, Preston, Lancs, PR5 8BS

City? leave town as it is

FOR those want city status for Donny, take a look at the drug taking and dealing, drive-by shootings and other crimes that city life brings, look no further than the Hepworth Wakefield art exhibition costing £18 million to the council for a load of concrete rubbish with buildings that look like Bin Laden’s hideaway.

Yes, it’s good for business people who are responsible for making cash in. Not forgetting units all around Donny that lie empty with no takers.

Mr B Doane, Coronation Road, Stainforth

Let’s help our young people

IT is a sobering thought that around a quarter of children living in Doncaster are growing up in poverty.

Worryingly, a new report by The Prince’s Trust and RBS reveals that there is nothing short of an aspiration chasm between the region’s richest and poorest young people, with those from deprived homes feeling that it will be impossible for them to achieve their goals.We simply cannot ignore this inequality.

If we fail to support our most vulnerable young people now, Doncaster could end up with a youth underclass, who tragically feel that they have no future.

Prince’s Trust schemes boost young people’s confidence, while making a positive impact in their communities.

But The Prince’s Trust cannot support these young people alone. Only by working together with employers and local authorities can we raise their aspirations, transforming their lives for good. By helping these young people today, we are breaking the cycle of poverty tomorrow.

We are encouraging school leavers looking for new skills and a confidence boost this summer to visit princes-trust.org.uk/NCS to find out more.

Samantha Kennedy, Regional Director, The Prince’s Trust, Wade House, The Merrion Centre, Leeds